The World Bank is one of the world’s largest producers of development data and research. But our responsibility does not stop with making these global public goods available; we need to make them understandable to a general audience. When both the public and policy makers share an evidence-based view of the world, real advances in social and economic development, such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), become possible.

This Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018 is a visual guide to the data on each of the 17 SDGs. With more than 180 annotated charts and maps, it presents this information in a way that is easy to browse, share, teach, and understand.

You’ll see both progress and possibility. Life expectancy has risen around the world since the 1960s, but even today, in low-income countries a third of all deaths are among children under age 5. New data show that only 69 percent of the world’s adults have an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider, and they’re even less likely to have an account if they’re women, younger, poorer, or less educated.

The Atlas draws on World Development Indicators but also incorporates data from other sources. For example, research by Global Fishing Watch analyzes radio transmissions used by industrial fishing vessels for collision detection to show the most heavily fished regions of the ocean and the impact humans are having on those ecosystems. The Atlas moves beyond averages and features local and disaggregated data. For instance, the discussion of air pollution presents national estimates for most countries, a subnational view showing variations within large countries such as China and India, and a year-long view showing a city’s seasonal variation in pollution picked up by one sensor at Delhi Technological University.

Given the breadth and scope of the SDGs, the Atlas is selective, emphasizing issues considered important by subject experts, data scientists, and statisticians at the World Bank.

The foundation for any evidence is trust: trust that data have been collected, managed, and analyzed responsibly and trust that they have been faithfully presented. The Atlas is the first World Bank publication that sets out to be computationally reproducible—the majority of its charts and maps are produced with published code, directly from public data sources such as the World Bank’s Open Data platform.

The Atlas distills the World Bank’s knowledge of data related to the SDGs. I hope it inspires you to explore these issues further so that we can collectively accelerate progress toward achieving the SDGs.

Shanta Devarajan
Senior Director, Development Economics and Acting Chief Economist
World Bank Group